Ronald McDonald House
Justin’s Wish Comes True
By Gene Davis
A mother‘s love is expressed in many ways, and when a child is very sick, the love extends to more than just a smile or saying the words, “I love you” – it sometimes means turning a dream into reality. Recently, RMHC–HI, along with a mom named Tina Rivera, helped to make a wish come true for her son Justin, who is being treated for cancer.
The story begins back in February when 16–year–old Justin, who had been staying at Ronald McDonald House off and on since December 19, 2007, asked his doctor if he could return home to Guam for three weeks, before his next round of chemotherapy started. When the doctor said no because Justin‘s condition required him to stay closer to the hospital, Justin became very depressed. Tina said he didn‘t feel much like even leaving his room at the Ronald McDonald House when visitors came to see him. “He was quiet and very sad,” she said.
But Tina was determined to cheer him up. She noticed that one thing Justin did enjoy a lot was listening to the Hawaiian band, Beach 5. As a ukulele player, Justin really liked how one of the group members played his ukulele. Tina tried very hard to find out how to contact them and enlisted the RMHC–HI staff to help. It worked. Beach 5 got a message about Justin, took the initiative to call, and happily agreed to visit the House to play music for Justin, Tina and the other families.
On May 9, the families gathered in the living room as Beach 5 set up to play. The secret that had been kept from Justin for weeks was revealed when it was time for Tina to bring Justin out of his room. Tina could barely hold back her tears as she said, “Surprise son! This is one of your wishes coming true.”
Beach 5 played for over an hour as Justin sat in the front row while the crowd cheered and four–year–old, Kierah, danced happily around the room to the beat of the music. Band member, Christian Yrizarry, was very friendly and thankful for being given the opportunity to help Justin. “The two things I will always give time for – people who are less fortunate than me, and to the kids.” Band member and firefighter, Sani Apuakehau, felt humbled by Tina‘s request to help Justin. “For her to ask for us, it‘s a no–brainer to do this. This is the reason why I play music, to touch people‘s lives.” When the mini concert was over, Justin was given a CD and took numerous pictures with the band. Justin‘s smilewas something Tina hasn‘t seen in a while. Wiping her tears, Tina said, “I feel thankful he‘s happy. This is the best Mother‘s Day I ever had because it brought a smile to my son and made me feel so good that his wish came true.”